Category: Health

Arizona Releases First-Ever Report on Adolescent Health

Children’s Action Alliance (CAA), in collaboration with Affirm and the Arizona Alliance for Adolescent Health, is excited to release the inaugural State of Adolescent Health in Arizona report. Recognizing that adolescence is a critical phase of growth and development for establishing a foundation for a healthy life, the report identifies the obstacles faced by youth in Arizona:

  • Approximately one in six Arizona adolescents experienced a major depressive episode in the past year, ranking as the 9th highest rate in the nation.
  • However, when it comes to receiving treatment for these episodes, Arizona is positioned at 47th in the nation.
  • Only 52% of adolescents requiring mental health services had insurance coverage that adequately met their needs.

CAA remains dedicated, alongside the Arizona Alliance for Adolescent Health, to ensuring that youth receive the necessary care for a healthy and fulfilling life.  This commitment underscores the urgency and importance of addressing the mental health needs of adolescents in the state.

Click here for the full report.

Nearly 103,000 Arizona kids lost AHCCCS, but KidsCare expansion brings hope.

Since the end of the public health emergency a year ago, 103,000 fewer Arizona children are enrolled in AHCCCS coverage with the return to regular renewal requirements, according to a new report from Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. AHCCCS and its companion KidsCare provide child-specific health insurance for nearly 900,000 children, including routine preventive care, developmental screenings and treatment, vaccinations, behavioral health, and vision and dental services.

While some of these children may have gained other coverage, through a parent’s employer or the Health Insurance Marketplace, more Arizona children likely have become uninsured in the past year.

But there is good news. On April 1, the income limit for KidsCare increased by nearly $10,000 a year for a family of four, meaning 10,000 additional Arizona children will become eligible. Also, at the beginning of this year, new federal requirements took effect providing 12 full months of continuous coverage for children in AHCCCS and KidsCare, meaning fewer administrative requirements for families to maintain their healthcare coverage.

Children’s Action Alliance continues working with our community partners and AHCCCS to increase children’s access to coverage. If you or someone you know needs health insurance, visit Cover AZ’s website to find a local community-based organization to help.

Click here for the full report.

Oral Health Day at the Capitol 2024

This month, CAA joined the Arizona Oral Health Coalition at the Capitol with the message to lawmakers that children and families cannot be healthy without good oral health. We asked legislators to prioritize comprehensive dental care for adults in AHCCCS in the budget they will be negotiating with the Governor.

Our Representatives and Senators were supportive, but our bill SB1037 has not been heard in the House Health and Human Services Committee, and this week is the last week for bills to be heard in the opposite chamber from where they were introduced. Thanks to all who came and got to see their legislature in action. Thanks also to our Representatives and Senators for learning about oral health. We will keep making our voices heard.


ICYMI: 10,000 MORE Children are KidsCare Eligible!

ICYMI: KidsCare, Arizona's Children's Health Insurance Program, is expanding eligibility. By increasing family income limits that qualify for KidsCare, more children can access affordable health care. The expansion was originally approved by the Governor and state legislature with bipartisan support in last year’s state budget. Governor Hobbs announced last week that the federal government approved the expansion to make 10,000 more children eligible for KidsCare starting  March 1. Children’s Action Alliance CEO, January Contreras, joined the Governor and AHCCCS Director Carmen Heredia to share remarks celebrating the important news.

We know children with health insurance are better able to get the care they need to grow up healthy, do well in school, and thrive in life. Thousands of families throughout the state will benefit.

Arizona still ranks in the bottom four states for uninsured children. Yet, we’re moving in the right direction. The rate of Arizona children without health insurance has fallen by half since 2008, from 16% to 8%. This KidsCare expansion will keep moving us forward.

Now, a family with four children and a monthly income of up to $5,850 is eligible for KidsCare. If you think you are eligible or work with families who may be eligible, take action to help children gain the health coverage they need.

To learn more and schedule an enrollment appointment, please visit

Fewer Arizona Kids Uninsured Thanks to Fewer Bureaucratic Hoops

A new report from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families (CCF) shows that pandemic-era Medicaid protections led to a significant improvement in the child uninsured rate nationally and in Arizona from 2019-2022. Throughout the national public health emergency, children covered by Medicaid were protected by a 2020 bipartisan change in federal law that gave states extra funding in exchange for keeping people enrolled in Medicaid, known as AHCCCS in Arizona.  This means fewer Arizona children lack health insurance: 8.4 percent in 2022, down from 9.2 percent in 2019. Especially noteworthy is the rate of Arizona Native American children who are uninsured fell from 24.3 percent to 13.6 percent in that same period. However, this policy that made it easier to stay enrolled in AHCCCS expired in April, and since that time nearly 100,000 children have lost their AHCCCS coverage, threatening this progress. The good news is that AHCCCS has taken up federal options to reduce paperwork burdens for certain populations. 

See the updated Arizona report card of children’s health.

Need help finding insurance? Click here.

CAA applauds Governor Hobbs' action to increase access to high-quality child care in Arizona.

Children’s Action Alliance applauds Governor Hobbs' move to take key actions to increase access to high-quality child care in Arizona.  

Child care is an essential service. Hard-working families need a safe, reliable, and affordable place for their children to go while they are working. But times are hard for many Arizonans. The costs for housing and other necessities continue to rise. One 2022 survey showed that the average family in Arizona is spending 20% of its income on child care costs alone.  

Compounding the affordability problem is a shortage of available care. Half of Arizona is a “child care desert,” which occurs when there is little to no access to quality child care in a community. Unsurprisingly, these child care deserts are more often located in rural areas or areas with higher concentrations of families living below the poverty line. “These child care deserts exist for many reasons and today’s announcement is aimed at addressing two of them” said Kelley Murphy, Interim President and CEO of Children’s Action Alliance.  

The first action aims to increase the supply of high-quality child care options for school-age children by reducing the barriers and streamlining the rules that child care providers must meet when seeking licensure. The state licensure rules have not been updated in over a decade,  and there are requirements that do not impact health and safety that can be removed, making it easier for those who want to provide care for school-age children. 

The second action places financial resources directly into the hands of parents and caregivers who are involved in the child welfare system. We know that most reports to DCS (Department of Child Safety) involve neglect and one of the key ways to prevent neglect is to provide families with the resources they need to care for their children.

This move signals The Governor’s commitment to addressing longstanding problems with the child care system and increasing the availability of high-quality early learning environments for all of Arizona’s children. 

CLICK HERE for The Governor’s announcement.

Child Uninsured Rate Could Rise Sharply if Arizona Doesn’t Act to Protect Children’s Coverage

KidsCare successfully brought down the child uninsured rate and proved to be a critical lifeline for more than 50% of Arizona’s children during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families at the McCourt School of Public Policy. The report examines state-by-state growth in Medicaid and CHIP enrollment during the pandemic and explains that millions of children who are still eligible for Medicaid or CHIP are at risk of losing coverage when pandemic protections go away on April 1. By law, Arizonans with AHCCCS-KidsCare health insurance have kept their coverage since March 2020.
Nationally, the report finds that 54 percent of all children are covered through Medicaid or CHIP. Thirty states, including Arizona, and the District of Columbia have at least half of their children insured through Medicaid or CHIP. The report also shows that in Arizona, AHCCCS-KidsCare enrollment grew by 31.6% from February 2020 to August 2022, with children making up 22.2% of this growth. Nationwide, an estimated 72 percent of children losing Medicaid will remain eligible, and Latino and Black children are at greater risk of inappropriately losing coverage.
Read report here

SAVE THE DATE:  March 8 - Support oral health for the whole family at the Capitol

Research has shown that oral health is a core part of overall health, shaping well-being at every age. Dental disease can harm heart, and lungs, complicate diabetes, and even impact cognitive abilities as everyone gets older. Good oral health is also important in ensuring healthy pregnancies and thriving children.  Untreated dental disease may lead to complications such as preeclampsia—a potentially fatal blood pressure condition, preterm delivery, and lower birth weight babies. Additionally, children are much more likely to have cavities if their birth parent has untreated cavities or tooth loss, and they are much more likely to miss school due to pain in the mouth.

In Arizona, over two million adults, over the age of 21 who participate in AHCCCS, do not have a dental benefit for preventative services. Oral health benefits in Arizona are reserved for emergencies and capped at $1,000, with very few exceptions. This leaves many Arizonans with costly visits to emergency departments as their only treatment option, and often it leads to the removal of teeth for preventable dental conditions. Recent research shows that offering a comprehensive dental benefit could reduce emergency department utilization in Arizona, and save the state millions of dollars each year, while improving the overall health of individuals and families.

Dental disease is a problem we can solve. Join Children’s Action Alliance and the Arizona Oral Health Coalition on March 8th for our Oral Health Day at the Capitol to tell lawmakers to make oral health a priority during this legislative session.

Register today!

Visit the AZOHC website to learn more and take action!

15,000 Arizona kids gained health coverage during the pandemic – but we’ve still got work to do.

Health insurance is a long-term investment for children. It helps families get the care they need, when they need it, without fear of expensive health bills. And it helps kids learn, grow, and play at their best.  

Racial and ethnic disparities in coverage rates persist, but a new report by Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families show some bright spots. In 2019 nearly 1 in 4 American Indian / Alaska Native children were uninsured. In 2021, that figure dropped to fewer than 1 in 5. But the uninsured rate for American Indian / Alaska Native kids in our state is still significantly higher than that of all Arizona children (8.5%). 

While the rate of uninsured children in Arizona is improving, we still have a higher rate of uninsured children than the national average (5.4%). Data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey show that though pandemic-era policies provided 15,000 more children with health coverage than in 2019, Arizona still ranks 48th in the nation for the rate of children’s health coverage.  

It doesn’t have to be this way. Here are a few of our suggestions for Arizona lawmakers heading into the 2023 legislative session:  

  1. Maximize Medicaid and CHIP (AHCCCS and KidsCare). As costs go up for all things, more families across the income spectrum are making difficult choices about how to trim their budgets. Arizona’s CHIP program (KidsCare) has some of the most stringent income requirements in the nation. Arizona lawmakers should expand income-based eligibility for KidsCare to better reflect our financial realities.  
  2. Streamline enrollment process. Parents shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to keep their kids covered. Removing the KidsCare wait period and reducing the paperwork burden will help more families get and stay insured.  
  3. Cover non-citizen children and pregnant people. In Arizona, lawful permanent residents (green card holders) must wait five years before qualifying for AHCCCS or KidsCare coverage. That leaves few options for families who are trying to make a new start in our state. Waiving this requirement for children and people who are pregnant is a simple, affordable, and kind way to treat new arrivals.  

Real full report here.

Read media article here.